Youth Unemployment

Sasha SzlafarskiSeptember 5, 2015
Photo by David Goehring

If you're reading this, there's a good chance you were born sometime between 1980 and 2000. If that's true, then there's also a good chance that you went through high school being told that the path to a successful life is as follows: study hard, go to university, get a degree, get a job, the end.

Back in the day, having a bachelor's degree meant you could get just about any job you could ever want. Unions ran the industries, people worked on livable wages, hard working young adults invested in real estate, and retired comfortably in their 50's. Post-secondary tuition was so cheap, you could earn enough money to cover a year's tuition, rent and spending money in your summer break working 30 hours a week for 10 weeks. This meant you still had almost two months off where you didn't have to work.

These days, tuition costs so much that anyone wanting to go to university or college will, on average, have to work full time for 50 weeks – almost an entire calendar year – to cover a single year's worth of tuition. That means even when matched for inflation, tuition is five times the cost for you compared to your parents. The unfortunate reality is this – unless you are one of the lucky young adults who was born into an upper-middle class family with cash to spare, you're going to have to take out a loan which will take you close to 5 years of full time work, without paying rent or making additional loan payments, to pay it off.

No problem! You've got that degree and that means you landed a great job paying above minimum wage, right?

Well, if you're an engineer, then that's probably true. If you're a part of the other 90-something percent of undergrads looking for work, then 10% of you aren't working at all, because there aren't any jobs for you. Of the 90% of you who do have a job, more than half of you are either working minimum wage jobs in retail or the service industry. To put it short, you're probably at the Gap or Tim Horton's. Back where you were when you were still in High School. For those of you who aren't working in either of those industries, there's a good chance you're working in the labor industry or self-employed. If you're part of the 10% of grads working in the field for which you studied, you are, quite clearly, one of the lucky ones. However, even then there's a good chance you're an unpaid intern, as most entry-level jobs require multiple years of experience in that very field!

So why is it that finding career employment has become a goal that is seemingly impossible to reach? There are many reasons. For starters, the lack of regulation against the rising cost of tuition, which makes the journey difficult right from the get-go. Second, the interest rates in loans are much, much higher than they were 30 years ago. And last, but most certainly not least, the jobs just aren't up for grabs. Previous generations who reaped the benefits of stronger economies saw their wages and investments rise, until there was so much money moving around that either a) nobody wanted to leave their jobs (who doesn't like making money?) or, most likely b) experienced economic recession, and as a result, lost much of their investments and found themselves unable to afford retirement.

Over the last 9 years, corporations have been paying fewer and fewer taxes, in an effort to keep money in the companies to promote hiring, when in fact, that extra money went into the pockets of those at the top. Meanwhile, the lack of money coming in at the federal level meant higher taxes, interests rates and tuition, means that there is now was money coming down from the federal level to promote education and career employment for new graduates.

When 40% of a population chooses – and I cannot stress that word enough – not to vote, that means the resulting 60% are compromised almost entirely of Canadian citizens over the age of 35, primarily, the baby boomers (our parents) – the ones who already have a cozy job, a place to live, and money put away. Take a moment to think about who knows what's best for YOU, and who's in control of what you will and will not have.

How can we expect policy to shift in favour of our futures if we can't be bothered to see the world for how it works, and how politics is determining our lives?

If young adults can't see the significance in becoming informed members of society, then they sure as hell shouldn't be complaining when things aren't working out for them. Especially when they aren't making the effort.


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